Should I Still Have Swelling One Year After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

It will be a year on September 5, 08 sinc my tummy tuck, lipsuction and body lift and thigh lift. My stomach is still swollen and it can swell within 3 cm in one day and till have pain on it and pain in my belly button. I lost over 134 through it counting what I lost with exercise and on Weight watchers. It concerns me now, after all these months I begin to get bigger at night and during the day very uncomfortable to the point some days have to wear my gown because I cannot fit in my new size 8 jeans. What going on my doctor just seems to pass it off and says it nothing to do with the surgery, what gives something going on. It very depressing!! Please someone let me know if this is normal. It was so great waking up after having to the surgery to find all of that excess skin was gone and now it just really hurts.

I am still faithfully following my program on weight watchers and exercising it does seem to matter what I do I still keep swelling. Please I would love to hear from some one that know if this is normal or not. How long does it take to get over the swelling after a tummy tuck?? Thanks, lifetimer

Doctor Answers 20

Significant Swelling a Year AFTER a Tummy Tuck is NOT Normal and Needs to be Studied

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You should have been completely healed by 6 months after a Tummy Tuck. It is definitely NOT normal to have the swelling and symptoms you discuss this far out and I am not sure why a fellow Plastic surgeon would minimize it. In the LEAST, you should have either a CT or MRI scan to rule out the possibility of a chronic fluid collection (seroma) , an intra-abdominal process NOT related to the tummy tuck (?Ovarian mass) or even a hernia.  Obviously, SOMETHING is going on.

I would recommend you see either another Plastic surgeon or a General surgeon and have the MRI so you can have this properly diagnosed and treated.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Swelling after abdominoplasty can last many months, but the trend should be favourable.

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Swelling can last a long time after a tummy tuck.  You can use your scar as a barometer.  If it is still red and elevated, the healing process is still active and swelling is present wherever the operation took the surgeon.  If you are not getting better from month to month, you may want to get another opinion.

Tummy tuck Swelling?

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 Thank you for the question.

As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.
Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:
1. Swelling in the soft tissues.  This may take several months to resolve and may worsen with increased activity  or at the end of the day.   Patience  is required to allow for resolution of the swelling. The swelling occurs because of the interruption of venous and lymphatic channels that occurs during the tummy tuck operation.
2. Fluid accumulation in the space between the skin and the abdominal wall muscle.  this may consist of blood ( hematoma)  or serum (seroma).  This fluid accumulation can generally be diagnosed by physical examination ( occasionally ultrasound  may be helpful).  Treatment consists of aspiration;  several episodes of aspiration may be necessary. 
3. Separation of the abdominal wall muscle repair may lead to a swelling/bulge appearance. This may be diagnosed on physical examination  with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication)  of the rectus muscles.  These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.
4. Residual adipose tissue may be confused for swelling. Again this is most easily diagnosed by physical examination. Additional liposuction surgery maybe necessary to improve the results of surgery.
Generally, it takes many months for swelling to resolve after tummy tuck surgery and it may take up to one year  (or greater)  a complete skin redraping  to occur.
I hope this helps.

Swelling and Pain at 1 Year is Not Typical

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It sounds like you had a fairly big procedure, but I can understand your concerns at 1 year after surgery.

Body Lift and massive weight loss are significantly traumatic. It can take a long time.  Sometimes there can be some scarring that can produce pain or discomfort.

Techniques that can help: massage, ultrasound, stretching exercises.

If you are not getting the support you need, consider a second opinion.

Swelling after a tummy tuck

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Significant swelling one year after a tummy tuck and liposuction is not normal.  Swelling (edema) can last up to 6-12 months after surgery especially if liposuction is also performed.  However, most noticeable swelling has resolved after 1-2 months and continues to improve from that point.  The "swelling" you are describing may actually be another condition.  It may be a weakening of your abdominal wall leading to a bulge or even hernia.  Also, it may be a organized fluid collection called a seroma.  This fluid collection is different from swelling in that it is fluid located in a defined space versus generalized fluid spread throughout your tissue.  Either of these conditions may be revealed through imaging studies such as an ultrasound or CT scan.

Swelling after tummy tuck should resolve within months

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Swelling after a tummy tuck should be completely resolved within several months after the procedure.  Sometimes cyclic swelling like you are describing can continue maybe for as long as 4-6 months but eventually resolves as well.

A few things to consider:

1) you say you have lost 134 lbs, but has your weight been increasing over time -- that can contribute to a "swelling" feeling

2) you may need to see your primary care doctor to make sure that you don't have any other health issues that could contribute to this problem.

Swelling after tummy tuck

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It is unusal to have swelling this afr out. There might be a fluid collection "seroma". A cheap non-invasive way to find out would be with an ultrasound.

You may also have residual stretched skin, which can happen after a tummy tuck is performed in a patient who has lost over 100 pounds. Are there still stretch marks on the upper abodomen?

Talk to your surgeon about the possiblity of residual loosening and seroma.

Michael Diaz, MD
Melbourne Plastic Surgeon

Swelling one year out after surgery is unusual. I would...

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Swelling one year out after surgery is unusual.  I would be most concerned about a seroma or hernia. A CT scan or MRI may help resolve this issue.

Prolonged swelling after body lift

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This is a very extensive surgical procedure and it does require a prolonged recovery but I am not certain as to why you would be experiencing  these type of symptoms one year later. They do not appear to necessarily be associated with the surgery but you may want to consider an evaluation by a gastroenterologist as well.

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

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Most patients only experience swelling for a few months after surgery. In some instances patients can see mild swelling up to 6 month - 1 year after surgery, but this is typically very minor. The condition described sounds to be either a seroma (a collection of fluid underneath the skin) or a hernia. You will need to see your doctor for a more complete analysis. You can determine if you have a seroma by ultrasound. Once determined you can visit your board certified plastic surgeon to have it drained. You will need to have a CT Scan or MRI to determine whether or not it is a hernia. If so, this is fixed through additional surgery.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.